As temperatures have climbed past the 90s over the past few days, one apartment complex just off Columbia Pike hasn’t been able to turn on the air — and that has some residents steamed.
Staff at the Dominion Towers Apartments (1201 S. Courthouse Road) were hoping to switch on the air conditioning system this past Thursday (May 3), giving people living in the building’s 330 units their first chance to cool down their homes for the year.
But senior property manager Christle Tate told ARLnow that the system experienced some sort of malfunction, and now she’s waiting on a contractor to work with the A/C’s manufacturer to find a fix for her overheated residents.
“We’re sitting in limbo, just like they are,” Tate said. “I’d never want anybody to sit through this… but, truth be told, we don’t have an answer right now.”
Tate suspects that the problem stems from the system’s “chiller board,” but she says has no idea when the contractor working on the A/C might be able to get it fixed.
“It’s not anything we’re doing on our end to hold up the process,” Tate said.
She says that even executives with the company that owns and manages the building — Alexandria-based Capital Investment Advisors — are in the dark about when the system might work again. Officials at the company did not immediately return requests for comment.
That sort of uncertainty is quite troubling for people living in Dominion Towers, like Jim Eisele, a resident since 2011.
He says the past weekend’s at-times sweltering temperatures made his apartment unbearable without any air conditioning, but he’s even more frustrated with the way the building’s management has responded to the incident.
“The communication has been terrible from when they took over managing the building,” Eisele said. “But obviously that’s more severe when it affects the air conditioning.”
Tate stressed that management has sent out several emails updating residents on the status of the system, and she emphasized that’s as dismayed as anyone about the outage, particularly because she’s concerned about the heat’s impact on many of the building’s older occupants.
But she also conceded that there’s little she can tell Dominion Towers residents except: “Be patient.”
“My residents here are not used to me not having an answer to something,” Tate said. “This is the first time I truly don’t know.”
Photo via Google Maps
Robbery Foiled By Lack of Cash — An attempted armed robbery in Arlington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood was foiled when the would-be victims told the knife-wielding robber that they did not have any money. “When the victims advised they did not have any cash, the suspect fled the scene,” said a crime report. [Arlington County]
Average Home Price Exceeds $1 Million — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington in June rose 2.7 percent to $1,007,044. Condo and townhouse prices, however, fell. [InsideNova]
Texas Lawmaker Wants Flight from DCA — A Texas Congressman has proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would permit direct flights from Reagan National Airport to San Antonio, which is outside DCA’s federally-set perimeter. [Washington Post]
Arlington Hosting Youth Baseball Tourney — Arlington will host the Babe Ruth state baseball tournament for 13-year-olds this weekend, at Barcroft Park and Wakefield High School, and a local team is in the tournament. Reports the Sun Gazette: “The opening ceremony will take place just before the host Arlington All-Stars take the field against Augusta at 7 p.m. on July 13 at Barcroft Park.” [InsideNova]
On Saturday morning, police found “numerous vehicles” in the East Falls Church area with tires slashed and body panels “keyed.”
The vandalism was centered around the 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street, near Bishop O’Connell High School.
From an ACPD crime report:
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 160702013, 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a destruction of property to a vehicle. Numerous vehicles in the area had their tires slashed and were keyed. There is no suspect description.
Also on Saturday morning, police investigated a series of vehicle break-ins in the Penrose and Columbia Heights neighborhoods around Columbia Pike. In total, seven unlocked vehicles were broken into but only two car owners reported that items had stolen.
LARCENY FROM AUTO, 160702012, 1600 block of S. Barton Street. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of items stolen out of an unlocked vehicle. Another officer canvassed the area and discovered two other unlocked vehicles that had been entered but nothing was stolen. There is no suspect description.
TAMPERING WITH AUTO, 160702016, 1800 block of S. 9th Street. At approximately 8:45 a.m.on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that someone had entered an unlocked car and stole items of value. Officers canvassed the area and discovered three other unlocked vehicles that had been rummaged through but nothing was taken. There is no suspect description.
A rare white or albino squirrel was spotted near Columbia Pike this week.
Reader Joan O’Keefe sent along the above photo, showing the squirrel from a distance on 12th Street S. near S. Cleveland Street, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, two blocks from Columbia Pike.
“The mailman said there’s a big family of them somewhere on 16th S.,” O’Keefe said. “Too bad it is a dark, drizzly day so the photo really doesn’t show its true white coloring, but you can get an idea by comparing the squirrel to the yellow in the grass. I don’t know if these are common in Arlington, but I have lived here since 1979 and I never saw another white squirrel. Solid black squirrels, yes, but white, possibly albino, never.”
We asked Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas about it.
“We have had a couple reports this year about the white squirrels. White squirrels, and specially albinos are very unusual,” he said.
“Black squirrels are fairly common due to the introduction of 18 black squirrels from a Canadian colony at the National Zoo during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency, not so much white ones,” Abugattas explained. “White squirrels are much rarer since their coat color makes them stand out and become easier prey… Albinos with their pink eyes, because their eye sight is also compromised, are even rarer.
I’ve only seen a couple of white squirrels in my life personally. So they’re rare in our area and all over for sure, but not unheard of. With few predators and maybe some help from folks feeding it, it looks like it will make it fine and be something the neighborhood may find a neat backyard critter.
I’m not sure about a colony of them (yet anyways), we’ve certainly had white squirrels reported to us. It is possible that that recessive gene, since there are no real predator pressures, could be carried on like the black genes were and we end up with a local colony someday like the ones previously mentioned.
The incident happened around 10:45 p.m. Monday, on the 2700 block of 16th Street S. Police say a pizza delivery driver — a spokeswoman declined to say from which company — was delivering an order on the street but didn’t have an exact address.
Three women in their 20s, who were wearing dark clothing, flagged the driver down and said they ordered the pizza. Then, according to a police report, they pepper sprayed the driver and ran off with two pizzas.
So far, police do not have any suspects or specific suspect descriptions.
(Updated on Aug. 27 at 10:50 a.m.) Might a monorail-like system be the solution to Columbia Pike’s transit woes?
The Columbia Heights Civic Association is holding a meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss JPods, a transit system that uses suspended railcars, as a possible solution for Columbia Pike in light of the cancelled streetcar.
“We’re excited about this possibility,” said Sarah McKinley, one of the Columbia Heights Civic Association Board members.
The owner of JPods, Bill James, has looked at the Pike and thinks it is a good location for the gondola-like system, McKinley said.
JPod users would get into a pod at a station and then program in an address for where he or she wants to go.
“Think of it like a chauffeured car,” James said.
There could be several hundred to 1,000 pods on the Columbia Pike network. There is a possibility of turning the transit system into a grid, with JPods running from Columbia Pike to Metro stations and other parts of Northern Virginia, he said.
The solar-powered pod system would be privately funded, according to James. The JPods website lists the average cost for installing a network as $10 million, though there’s no word on how much it might cost to construct along the Pike.
Before the project was canceled, the cost of the five mile Columbia Pike streetcar line was estimated at $358 million.
If JPods were approved for Arlington, a network could be built along the Pike in a year, James said.
“[With JPods] you’ll be able to get around most cities like [you can in] New York, without cars,” he said.
Arlington County has been “made aware” of the JPods system, said Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.
“It’s too early to comment on it because we have not received any detailed technical or cost information that can be evaluated,” he said. “The JPod information we have seen says it would not require any public funding.”
Arlington County does not expect to decide on an alternative transit plan for the Pike until next year.
Someone smashed a police cruiser’s windshield in the Columbia Heights neighborhood last Thursday.
The incident happened around lunchtime. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
VANDALISM, 10/24/13, 1000 block of S. Cleveland Street. Between 12:40 pm on October 24 to 1:00 pm October 24, a police cruiser’s windshield was shattered with a piece of concrete while parked on S. Cleveland Street. The investigation is ongoing.
Early this morning, a man with “bulging eyes” was seen masturbating in front of a Virginia Square apartment building.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 10/31/13, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. On October 31 at 3:03am, a man was seen masturbating in front of an apartment building by the concierge. When police arrived, the man was gone. Officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the suspect. The suspect is described as a black or possibly Middle Eastern male in his 20’s – 30’s, “bulging eyes”, who was bald and possibly had facial hair. At the time of the incident the suspect was wearing a black coat.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
BURGLARY, 10/23/13, unit block of N. Glebe Road. Between 9 pm on October 22 and 6:15 am on October 23, an unknown subject(s) entered a vehicle service station through a window and stole various items to include cash, iPhones and cigarettes. There is no suspect(s) description.
ASSAULT ON A POLICE OFFICER, 10/26/13, 3100 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 1:45 am on October 26, an intoxicated male suspect became angry that he could not enter the bar and hit the glass door with his hand. As the security staff from the bar confronted the subject, he became aggressive and was taken to the ground. An officer intervened and attempted to move the crowd back, when an intoxicated female assaulted the officer by pushing him back. Sarah Ashley Offenbacher, 23, of Greenbelt Maryland was arrested and charged with Assault on a Police Officer and Drunk in Public. She was held on no bond.
FRAUD, 10/26/13, 4200 block of N. Wilson Blvd. On October 26 at 8:30am, nine victims approached an officer claiming they had been falsely promised work by a subject. The subject had the victims pay him $55 and a $12 transfer fee in addition to providing him with their ID’s and social security numbers. The subject asked the victims to meet him at the Ballston Mall for work orientation, but never showed. The subject is described as a Hispanic male, 5’0″-5’2″ tall, 140-160 pounds, and bald with a thin mustache.
ARMED ROBBERY, 10/28/13, 4000 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. Between 12:00 am and 12:06 am on October 28, two suspects implied that they had a firearm during the incident and took money from the cash registers and two bottles of beer from the gas station. Suspect #1 is described as a black male, thin build, in his mid to late 20’s, wearing a navy blue track jacket with white stripes on the sleeves, blue jeans, and a grey skull cap. Suspect #2 is described as a black male, medium build, in his mid to late 20’s, wearing a black sweater with red and white stripes on the sleeves, black jeans, and a black skull cap at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
GRAND LARCENY, 10/28/13, 3600 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 9:40 pm on October 28, two suspects were arrested for stealing a bicycle form the Virginia Square Metro. One of the suspects had a set of wire cutters in a backpack. John Wiley, 20, of Washington, D.C., and a juvenile were arrested and charged with Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools.
BURGLARY, 10/28/13, 6800 block of N. Lee Highway. Between October 27 at 3:00 pm and October 28 at 10:00 am, the victim opened up his café and noticed that money was missing from envelopes in the safe. The rear door was found unlocked with no evidence of damage or signs of forced entry. The investigation is ongoing.
LARCENY FROM AUTO, 10/28/13, 300 block of N. Garfield Street. Between 8:00 pm on October 27 to 6:00 am on October 28, an unknown suspect(s) entered four unlocked vehicles in the neighborhood and took cash and various items.
BREAKING AND ENTERING, 10/30/13, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. Between 10:22 pm on October 29 to 9:00 am on October 30, a store was broken into and merchandise was stolen. There are currently no suspect(s). The investigation is ongoing.
10/24/13 – 10/25/13, VA WZB-3144, 2010 Honda Odyssey, Gray
3200 block of S. 2nd Street
10/30/13, VA XNA4891, 2006 BMW 330xi
1200 block of S. Fern Street
A woman was sexually assaulted last night as she walked into her apartment building in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. The victim managed to fight back, however, and the suspect left some incriminating evidence at the scene as he fled.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 05/15/12, 2900 block of S. 13th Street. At 9:33 pm on May 15, a victim was walking into her apartment building when a subject ran up from behind and sexually assaulted her. The victim began throwing punches and was able to take the subject to the ground. As the suspect fled the scene, he dropped his cell phone and car keys. Police have knowledge of the suspect’s identity, but have been unable to locate him at this time.
Police say the incident was not related to a series of sexual assaults Friday night.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
ROBBERY, 05/09/12, 900 block of N. Stafford Street. On May 9 at 2:21 pm, a known suspect to the victim took cash out of the victim’s coat pocket, pushed her to the ground and kicked her in the head. The suspect fled the scene and was located a short time later by police in bushes behind a restaurant. Johan Middelthon, 46, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with robbery and malicious wounding. He was held on no bond.
ROBBERY, 05/12/12, 2600 block of S. Eads Street. On May 11 at 11:15 pm, a male subject attempted to grab money out of the hand of a female victim. The victim punched the subject in the face and fled the scene on foot. John Dingle, 39, of Stafford, VA, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery. He was held on a secured bond.
ROBBERY, 05/15/12, 100 block of S. Utah Street. On May 15 at 3:30 pm, a subject grabbed landscaping equipment from a previous employer and tried to flee the scene. The owner ran after the subject to recover the equipment and a physical altercation ensued. The suspect fled the scene in his vehicle and was located by police in Fairfax County. Kris Curtis, 26, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with robbery, attempted malicious wounding and assault and battery. He is being held without bond.
BURGLARY, 05/11/12, 1500 block of N. 19th Street. Between 7:30 am on May 10, and 6:45 pm on May 11, an unknown subject(s) entered an apartment and stole various items. Property reported stolen include a bike, iPad, camera and laptop. There is no suspect description.
BURGLARY, 05/12/12, 800 block of S. 18th Street. Between 8:30 pm on May 11, and 8:50 pm on May 12, an unknown subject(s) entered into an apartment and stole two laptops. There is no suspect description.
BURGLARY, 05/12/12, 200 block of N. Piedmont Street. Between 11:45 am and 1 pm on May 12, a resident returned home to find her living room window open and laptop missing. There is no suspect description.
BURGLARY, 05/12/12, 2100 block of S. Nelson Street. Between 4:30 am and 5 pm on May 10, an unknown subject(s) entered a residence and stole various items. Property reported stolen include $10,000 in cash, jewelry, and a kitchen blender. There is no suspect description.
BURGLARY/STALKING/UNLAWFUL FILMING, 05/13/12, 800 block of N. Quincy Street. On May 13 at 12:05 am, an ex-boyfriend entered the victim’s apartment unknowingly after sending her a topless photo of herself while she slept. The subject made over 50 attempts to contact the victim by phone and was reported yelling inappropriate comments outside of her apartment. Trevor Frye, 27, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with burglary, stalking and unlawful filming. He was held without bond.
SEXUAL ASSAULT, 05/12/12, 2100 block of N. Lee Highway. On May 12 at 12:19 am, a male subject approached a female victim walking home alone and grabbed her. The subject was attempting to take the victim to the ground while sexually assaulting her and covering her mouth. The victim punched the subject, then she was thrown into the bushes. The suspect fled the scene. The suspect is described as a black male, wearing khaki pants, a red and white checkered long sleeve shirt and black gloves.
SEXUAL ASSAULT, 05/13/12, 300 block of N. Oxford Street. On May 13 at 2 am, a female victim reported she was sexually assaulted by a male [suspect]. The victim and her boyfriend attended a cookout with the subject, where they consumed alcohol. The victim reported the sexual assault after waking up in the middle of the night to find the subject on top of her in the boyfriend’s apartment. Federico Alfonso Umana Barrera, 35, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with sexual assault and forgery of a public document.
PEEPING, 05/12/12, 900 block of N. Barton Street. At 12:19 am on May 12, a female victim was alerted to a noise outside her living room window and when she looked a male subject was standing in the window watching her. Police located the suspect a short time later behind an adjacent apartment complex. Erdenbulag Khosbagana, 31, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with peeping.
05/09/12, Vespa LX50 Scooter, Brown, 3200 block of N. 10th Street
The quake reportedly damaged the elevator shaft at the Columbia Knoll condominium building at 5111 8th Road S. in Columbia Heights West. The building’s two main elevators were cordoned off last night and the county Fire Marshal was on the scene to assess the damage.
Other than the damaged elevator shaft, however, no other major structural damage has been reported in Arlington.
A granite sign that went missing from the side of Columbia Pike has been found.
The sign (shown above, before it went missing) was placed on the east end of Columbia Heights to announce to drivers that they were entering the neighborhood. On Tuesday we reported that it had disappered.
Christine Nixon, chief of the county’s Neighborhood Services Division, said someone may have tried to steal the sign and then simply gave up.
“Parties unknown at present unscrewed the sign and left it lying in the median,” Nixon said in an email last night. “It’s really, really heavy so I’m assuming that they tried to lift it and couldn’t. Our keen-eyed folks at [the Parks Department] noticed the sign lying there and picked it up and took it to their storage area. So we are going to reinstall it shortly with bolts that can’t easily be unscrewed (and maybe a more attractive rear view).”
The sign would have cost $900 to replace.
The sign announced to folks heading westbound on the Pike that they were entering the Columbia Heights neighborhood. It was installed several months after the County Board approved a $12,500 neighborhood sign project for Columbia Heights.
Christine Nixon, chief of the county’s Neighborhood Services Division, says the sign itself cost about $900.
“They don’t disappear very often because they’re very heavy,” she said. “We do have a fund that we use to replace signs — more often then being stolen they get run into by very, very impaired drivers — so [the department] will be ordering a new one shortly. If the missing one turns up later we will keep it in storage for eventual use.”
Nixon added: “It is frustrating to have County property stolen, particularly since the design and siting process is something that volunteers spend a lot of time on.”
Photos of the sign from two weeks ago are shown below. At the time, we took note of the fact that the aesthetics of the newly-installed sign, when viewed from behind, were a bit lacking.
The county’s gas infrastructure includes older gas lines from the 1930s and 1940s that may be especially prone to failure. This winter, changes in temperatures have been especially unkind.
Most leaks are reported to be outside and underground. Generally, those are less dangerous, although larger leaks can sometimes prompt authorities to cordon off the area around the leak. Occasionally, the leak is inside a building, which is usually considered more dangerous due to the potential for the gas to build up in the structure. Inside gas leaks often require the building to be evacuated.
All gas leaks are costly in terms of repairs, which often require digging, and the expended time of first responders.
To address the issue, the Columbia Heights Civic Association will be holding a public meeting on Monday, March 14 called “Natural Gas Leaks — What Can We Do?” The meeting, which is open to residents of all Arlington communities, will address the larger gas leak problem as well as the question of what one should do if they smell gas.
“People are not really aware of what to do,” said Sara McKinley, who’s organizing the meeting. “We really need to encourage people when they smell gas… to call it in.”
A representative from Washington Gas will be in attendance.
“Washington Gas will participate in the meeting to discuss natural gas safety and reliability,” said Ruben Rodriguez, the company’s director of corporate communications. ” The company will also address questions from those attending the meeting.”
McKinley says Arlington is “plagued” by gas leaks, but the meeting won’t be able assigning blame.
“This isn’t a question of bashing the gas company,” she said. “If anything, we want to be supportive.”
Last month Washington Gas requested permission from the state of Virginia to impose a 6 percent rate hike, citing the cost of “infrastructure investments” among other rising expenses.
Washington Gas advises anyone who smells natural gas to “leave the area immediately… call 911 and Washington Gas at (703) 750-1400 or 1 (800) 752-7520.”
The March 14 meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street South).